I'm not good with old people... which is strange, as I am myself old people. Nevertheless, there have been elders in my life that I have really cared about.
Let me list some of them,
Susan was our next-door neighbour when I was a young woman. She got me, I got her. I could talk to her about (nearly) anything. Young girls must have their secrets. She validated me. She was an honorary granny.
Paddy was Susan's husband. He was prone to falling asleep in his chair while Susan and I chatted and put the world to rights. For some reason, he always woke up abruptly if the conversation ever touched on racy subjects. Susan was not afraid to talk about sex and because I had become a fallen woman she considered me someone she could speak to on such matters. God love both of us, we were each as unworldly as each other, she in her 70s, me in my very early 20s.
It was a long, long time before Pearlie and I saw eye-to-eye and to some extent, we were always at odds. The problem was, we were both in love with the same man and, in her heart, she never believed I was worthy of her son.
James wasn't even old. Maybe mid-forties, but he seemed old to a teenager. Looking back I think he might have loved me a little but he never, ever made me feel uncomfortable. He loaned me an old fashioned reel-to-reel tape recorder and lots of recordings of Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Howlin' Wolf, Lighnin' Hopkins and many other blues artists of that time. There was no text, just music. I had it for ages so I owe James a lot.